ROME – Italo helmer Paolo Sorrentino, winner of this year’s foreign-language Oscar for “The Great Beauty” will write and direct his first TV series, working-titled “The Young Pope,” about an imaginary pontiff who is the first Italian-American Pope in history.

Sorrentino’s skein conceived for the international market will be produced by Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani’s Wildside in collaboration with Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia paybox which will air the show in Italy. U.S. producer John Lyons, the former president of production at Focus Features, is executive producing.

The eight-episode series in fifty-minute format is penned by Sorrentino in collaboration with his “Beauty” writing partner Umberto Contarello and veteran Italo film and TV scribe Stefano Rulli.

Set in Vatican City, Italy, the U.S. and Africa, “Young Pope” will have an international cast.

“The series is about dreams, fears, conflicts, battles, the search for meaning and the need for love of a Pope, seen through the prism of Sorrentino’s unique vision capable of creating worlds that are at the same incredible and  more real than reality itself,” said Mieli and Gianani in a statement.

”We are elated that the director who just won an Oscar for Italy after a 15-year dry spell has chosen Sky for his new project, his first for TV,” enthused Sky Executive Vice President of Programming Andrea Scrosati who called the project: “original, bold and ambitious.”